Fullness powder and restaurant food

By Michael Moncur @ 6:00 am — Filed under:

In this Ask MetaFilter thread, someone wants to know why the food at their favorite restaurant makes them feel full despite the small quantities. He even goes so far as to wonder whether they’re adding some mysterious “fullness powder” to the food.

Imagine the demand for such a powder if it existed! I’m not sure why restaurants would use it—they want you to eat more food, after all—but you could make a killing selling it to dieters.

Sadly, the consensus seems to be that a less mysterious substance is causing the feeling of fullness: butter—lots of butter, and other fats. Someone posted this great quote from Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain:

“Butter. I don’t care what they tell you they’re putting or not putting in your food at your favorite restaurant; chances are, you’re eating a ton of butter. In a professional kitchen, it’s almost always the first and last thing in the pan. We saute in a mixture of butter and oil for that nice, brown carmelized color, and we finish nearly every sauce with it (we call this monter au buerre); that’s why my sauce tastes richer and creamier and mellower than yours, why it’s got that nice, thick, opaque consistency. Believe me, there’s a big crock of softened butter on almost every cook’s station.”

While this might be a good reason to avoid eating out too often, I think there’s another message here: the low-fat (or no fat) diet foods aren’t always good for making you feel full, so you might want to try a bit of butter to add bulk to a meal. Just don’t use as much as your favorite restaurant uses…


PostSecret: Judgmental

By Laura Moncur @ 6:00 pm — Filed under:


This secret from PostSecret isn’t the first time I’ve seen this phenomenon. I’ve had it said to me with a straight face in hushed tones. I’m part of the converted now, so the voice looked at the fat women across the room and whispered to me, “Don’t you find it harder to tolerate fat people now?” I clenched my jaw, crinkled my brow and shook my head at her. After suffering the torment of children and teens during my formative years, I have a hard time understanding what skinny people find they have to “tolerate.”

I truly believe that those thin people who resent fat people are the ones that got to their goal weight and maintain it using brute force. They never solved the issues that made them turn to food, so it is always a temptation to them. They never learned how to eat moderately with joy, so food is constantly a source of stress for them.

They imagine that fat people can just eat whatever they want whenever they want. They imagine that fat people never have to stress out about their clothes fitting. They imagine that fat people never have to break a sweat. In essence, they have completely forgotten what being fat is like.

When I was overweight, I constantly monitored my food. I was always on a diet or bingeing after one. It is actually easier for me to eat now than it was when I was fat. When I was overweight, I couldn’t find cute clothes to fit me, much less worrying whether my $300 jeans would still fit. Those designers never even considered that I might want to buy a pair of $300 jeans. Buying clothes and fitting into them is much easier now. When I was overweight, I exercised more than I do now. I would run HARD and be in pain for days afterward. Even climbing the stairs was a major feat for me. Exercise was just getting my body out of bed and showered, sometimes. I broke a sweat all the time. Now, I’m cold all the time and my exercise is much more moderate. Climbing the stairs doesn’t work me out anymore and when I go to the gym, I’m ignored instead of stared at.

If you find that you are intolerant of the obese, you better watch out. It’s the first step going back to the way you were. You imagine that fat people have a life that is easier. You think that they don’t need to work as hard as you did to get thin and forget how hard it was just to survive in this prejudiced world.

Of course, my reaction to fat people is just as bad. I want to take them aside and give them advice. I want to help them find the path just like I did. I kind of feel like I have found THE WAY, and I want to show them the small path I cut with a machete. I want to show them my before pictures. I want to tell them where to find me. My instincts are just as harmful as the people who detest the obese and I do my best to keep them in check.

PostSecret‘s beneficiary is the National Hopeline Network. It is a 24-hour hotline (1 (800) SUICIDE) for anyone who is thinking about suicide or knows someone who is considering it.

iPods as fitness gadgets?

By Michael Moncur @ 6:00 am — Filed under:

While Apple’s new iPod nano is unlikely to make it onto anyone’s list of essential equipment for walking, running, or jogging, listening to music does make exercise more bearable, and a flash memory based music player doesn’t skip like a CD player or an old-fashioned iPod.

One more reason to consider this particular music player: If you don’t have a watch handy, the nano doubles as a stopwatch. Even if you do have a watch handy, it probably doesn’t have all of the features of this stopwatch—it tracks lap time and total time, and each stopwatch session is saved in a list. You can select an entry in the list to view the date, time, time for each lap, and other statistics.

Don’t let the lack of a $200 music player stop you from running, of course—but kudos to Apple for making this one a bit more than an entertainment device. See the Ars Technica review for a description and screenshot of the stopwatch feature.


The world’s healthiest foods

By Michael Moncur @ 8:22 pm — Filed under:

The World’s Healthiest Foods is a site that promotes healthy foods. They’ve chosen a list of healthiest foods based on their criteria. While the usual suspects are there—whole grains, vegetables, fresh fruits, and beans—there are also some odd choices like Calf’s Liver and Maple Syrup.

Whether you agree with their criteria or not, one useful part of the site is their collection of recipes. You can select recipes based on which of the healthy foods they contain, or just browse the list. There are bound to be a few good healthy recipes in there, and I appreciate the ability to exclude those that contain Calf’s Liver.


Keep Moving

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

After Mike’s bike was stolen, something changed in me. I have only ridden my bike to work once since that incident. That doesn’t mean I haven’t exercised, I just haven’t felt like riding my bike to work lately. I don’t know what’s going on there, but I’m sure I’ll feel better about it. Probably about the time that the snow flies and riding to work is cold and wet instead of hot and sweaty. Wet from sweat or wet from snow. Doesn’t matter either way.

I’ve been going to the gym some mornings. Mostly, I’ve been walking around the industrial park on my lunch hour. I spend the entire hour walking at a quick pace past businesses that whizzed by when I was on my bike and are completely invisible when I am in my car.

On the corner, there is a company with the word textile in its name. I had no idea what they did there, but now, I think they must wash linens. The smell of laundry detergent and fabric softener surround the building like a fragrant cloud. As a child, my mom did laundry on the same day that she cleaned house. Just the smell of a dryer running makes me think everything around me is clean and fresh and new.

Lynn Wilson has finally cut the shrubs in front of their building. It would be safe for me to ride my bike past them now. It’s not an issue when I’m walking, however. Some days, they smell like chimichangas. I think the strength of the scent of fried food is a function of my hunger and not a function of what they are creating in that huge, industrial building.

They dug a big hole in front of one of the buildings. The sidewalk is obliterated and I am forced to walk on the street. Sometimes I read when I’m walking, so I’m scared that I will fall into the big hole. The construction workers look at me apologetically. Just because they demolished my sidewalk doesn’t mean that I blame them, but they still say sorry to me with their eyes.

I guess it doesn’t matter whether I ride my bike to work, walk around at lunch or go to the gym in the dark. As long as I am moving my body and keeping active, I still get stronger. I’m so grateful that I have so many options available to me.


Shin Splints

By Laura Moncur @ 6:00 pm — Filed under:

When I started exercising, I was walking and running outdoors on sidewalks and roads. I had incredible pain in my shins (the muscle on the lower front of my leg). I also had pain under my feet in the arch. I actually went to a podiatrist, who wrapped my foot and told me to ice it regularly. It didn’t help.

The pain would go away when I stopped exercising for a week or so, but would come back every time I’d start again. I was really frustrated because the doctor wasn’t any help and every article that I read about this kind of pain gave me the following useless advice:

  • Stretch: They’d tell me to stretch, but didn’t tell me how.
  • Ice: Ice helps reduce the swelling when you’re injured, but what I really needed was to learn how not to get injured in the first place.
  • Change the Type of Exercise: I was really poor and the only options available to me at the time were walking and running. Both hurt me.
  • Wrap It: The doctor showed me how to wrap my foot, but it didn’t prevent me from injuring myself.
  • Rest: Yeah, rest works, but EVERY time I started up again, the pain came back.
  • Lose Weight: A lot of the articles told me to lose weight because extra poundage caused problems. I remember reading that thinking, “No kidding? Why do you think I’m running and walking in the first place!”

Step StretchFinally, Runner’s World had a small, tiny article that was an “Ask the Doctor” type of thing. It was so small I could have missed it, but luckily, I found it. The space was limited, so the doctor answered the shin splint question with ONE stretch that I could do to solve the problem. That and a recommendation to see a doctor was all the article contained. Not even a picture.

After following the directions for a week, I noticed a definite improvement in that foot and my shins. Now, I swear by this stretch. I do it before and after every run, walk and especially if I’m playing Dance Dance Revolution. This website has a description of the stretch:

My additional thoughts:

  • Lower your heel over the edge of a step and lift your toes.
  • Make sure you hold onto something so that you don’t slip and hurt yourself.
  • Lowering your foot stretches your calf muscle and lifting your toe stretches your shin.
  • You can bend the knee of the stretching leg and it will deepen the stretch.
  • Hold the stretch for 20 seconds on each leg.
  • Be careful. DO NOT bounce! It’s really easy to lose your balance on the step and REALLY hurt yourself.

Food Porn

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

Part of eating healthy is choosing your treats wisely. I used to save my points for Krispy Kreme donuts and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (bite size, not full size). After so many years of eating highly processed and preservative-laden food, I’m not attracted to it anymore. It rarely appeals to me and I can find myself wandering around a convenience store, looking for something to eat. Lately, I have come back to the car empty-handed.

When I have the extra points for a treat, these are the kinds of treats that I want. Small amounts of rich food made with fresh ingredients:

Even the roasted peppers, which are probably only one or two points a serving, look delicious and decadent. So much of our enjoyment of food is in the presentation. That is part of the reason why food at fine restaurants tastes better. Try to make every meal you eat an entry into the Food Porn category and whatever you’re eating will take on a fullness that you never noticed before.


Your Equipment Does Not Matter

By Laura Moncur @ 6:00 pm — Filed under:

Mono Lake, California, 2001 Ken Rockwell

I find inspiration in the strangest of places. Mike pointed me in the direction of this article about photography. It’s written by Ken Rockwell, an award winning photographer. He writes about how the camera you have doesn’t matter. He gives an example of his most famous photograph (shown above), which was taken with a broken camera. He says, “The important part of that image is that I stayed around after my friends all blew off for dinner.”

What does all this have to do with fitness?


Marilu Henner’s Diet

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

Marilu HennerI remember seeing her on television. She was talking about her most recent book, but I couldn’t tell you which one it was. I couldn’t even tell you when I saw her. The only thing I remember from that television appearance is my reaction to her program, “She’s a nut.”

She was talking about cow’s milk and how it’s not meant for humans, it’s meant for baby cows. I remember her saying, “This is something that turns a baby cow into a two ton steer.” That was her explanation of why I shouldn’t drink milk. I changed the channel and let whomever it was interviewing her lose one viewer.

Last week I came across her diet again. This time, it was being reviewed by The Diet Blog. I sighed and thought I might as well give Marilu a look.

I felt really silly after reading her Ten Steps:

  1. Eliminate chemicals from the foods you eat.
  2. Eliminate caffeine and nicotine from your system.
  3. Eliminate processed sugar from the foods you eat.
  4. Eliminate meat, especially red meat, from your meals.
  5. Eliminate dairy products (anything made from the milk of another animal).
  6. Combine your foods for efficient digestion.
  7. Reduce and change the fats you eat.
  8. Exercise daily and practice stress reduction.
  9. Get enough sleep.
  10. Do everything with Gusto!

I pretty much follow her plan. I still eat dairy products, but like meat, I make sure that they are from “clean-living cows” instead of doped up ones. Eliminating the chemicals from my life came as a function of taste rather than health. After eating preservative-laden food for so long, I just can’t stomach it anymore. I think eating healthy and fresh food made me desire better tasting food and frozen meals don’t cut it anymore.

As far as combining foods, I’m not a believer. I think each person needs to experiment to find out what works for them for each of their meals. I know that if I ate solely fruit for breakfast, I would crash at 9am, demanding donuts. It has happened before.

Other than that, I’m surprised at how closely I follow Marilu’s program. It’s almost embarrassing to me because I discounted her so long ago. If I had just bothered to listen, I might have been able to be healthy a couple of years earlier.


A 9/11 Running Story

By Laura Moncur @ 6:00 pm — Filed under:

He quit his job and screwed up his plans to meet his friends in New York for a business meeting. They were killed in the September 11th Attacks and he was home, alive and stunned.

It has been a hard couple of weeks here in the U.S. When things seem like they are closing in on you, exercise is a release that can heal you and calm your mind. Scott’s story is just one of many. We have been emotionally healed by sweat and muscle soreness.

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